IBOGA NIGHTS

3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2014
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 96 minutes
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David Graham Scott’s feature documentary Iboga Nights is a follow-up to his 2004 short documentary, Detox or Die, in which opiate addict Scott was able to break his decades long addiction and dependence thanks to an intense session involving ibogaine, a hallucinogenic drug known for its ability to severely ease, if not entirely eliminate, withdrawal symptoms. In Scott’s case, the 36 hours spent tripping on ibogaine worked as intended, and he’s been addiction free ever since.

Over the years, Scott’s documentary prompted others to utilize ibogaine, and its raw form, iboga, to achieve the same results. As more and more people contact Scott, he feels it is his duty to follow-up to learn how safe ibogaine treatment really is, or isn’t. If folks are going to be using his previous documentary to make a major life decision, he feels responsible enough to need to cover all the bases regarding the drug.

Thus, in Iboga Nights, Scott travels around, visiting with addicts who have kicked with the help of ibogaine treatment, or who want to do so. He sits in on a few ibogaine treatment sessions in Holland, with a woman who has become the defacto expert on the subject, for a first-hand perspective on how it works for different people. He spends time with addicts as they go about their daily routine of scoring and consuming their drugs, only to lather, rinse and repeat. In the end, he helps one addict on their own self-administered ibogaine treatment.

So is ibogaine a miracle detox drug that any major addict looking to kick should seek out? Yes and no. The anecdotal evidence is very strong for the drug, and more than a few profiled in the film find an escape from addiction. Not all are so lucky, however, with one patient needing medical care at a hospital due to the treatment, and another winding up dead due to a somewhat treatment-related tragedy. These negative tales, plus the sometimes grueling nature of the detox process, where those under the influence can undergo some serious tripping, not all good, makes the treatment, at best, a last chance risk for those who’ve been unable to kick any other way. As one person discusses it, ibogaine treatment is for those on the precipice of death anyway; it’s a risk, but the alternative of doing nothing is just as deadly.

It’s an intense journey with these addicts, and Scott is in the thick of it, keeping the camera rolling in all instances. We see the drug abuse, we see the detox sessions and we get the first-hand accounting from everyone involved. It’s an experience that is not pretty or pleasant in the slightest, except when you consider where it is successful, and I can see an audience having trouble sticking in there for ninety-plus minutes. Still, it is an education and, for those of us who are on that brink with drug addiction, or know someone close who is, it’s also a ray of hope. Again, by no means is ibogaine or iboga treatment a perfect solution, but the film, taken with Scott’s Detox or Die, shows that there is truly something powerful going on here.

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Posted on June 25, 2014 in Reviews by
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